Are you always late to class because you hit snooze a few too many times? Do you feel so tired during the day that it’s difficult to focus?
If you constantly wish you could ditch your obligations and head home for a nap, you’re one of many people who struggle with fatigue.
The good news? You might be able to feel more awake and energetic by making a few simple adjustments to your daily routine.
Let’s talk about the most common causes of fatigue and what you can do about them.
- Having a Busy Schedule
Many students lead busy lives. Juggling multiple obligations like studying, socializing, volunteering, and working is a common cause of exhaustion (particularly if you’re packing more than one or two activities into a single day).
While it’s not always possible to reduce your course load or hours spent at a job, there are some ways you can avoid becoming burnt out.
For example, turning down invitations from friends or family members when you’re already overwhelmed is not the end of the world. People usually understand if you take the time to explain why you need to opt-out this time (maybe offer an alternative time that works better for you).
- Not Sleeping Enough
We’re all guilty of being out late and staying up to study, text, browse social media, or stream a favorite show. But too many late nights can add up more quickly than you might realize, and you may not be getting enough sleep.
Think you can catch up by spending a couple of your days off snoozing the day away? Think again.
Your body needs quality, undisturbed sleep for about seven to eight hours consistently each night. Snoozing longer on the weekend won’t replace the restorative and energizing benefits of a healthy sleep schedule.
Try to be more intentional about setting a bedtime and stick to it with a few exceptions (like the occasional night out). If possible, avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime, as they produce a stimulating blue light that can keep you awake.
- Eating and Hydration Habits
Skipping meals because you’re busy or trying to lose weight may not seem like a big deal, but it’s far from harmless: particularly if you always feel tired.
Even if you don’t feel starving, it’s crucial to give your body the fuel it needs to keep up with that busy schedule. Food becomes the energy you need to avoid feeling dizzy and sleepy throughout the day.
What you eat matters, too.
Sure, many foods high in fat, sugar, and calories are likely to make you feel full right after you finish. But these snacks and meals do more harm than good later in the day when your blood sugar crashes, causing fatigue.
Try these tips for eating a healthy diet and maintaining energy:
- Eat a breakfast that’s rich in protein
- Keep healthy snacks in your bag when you’re on the go
- Pack your lunch instead of stopping for fast food
- Opt for water instead of soda, juice, and sports drinks
- Lifestyle Factors
Many of the most common causes of fatigue are lifestyle factors you may not know are impacting your energy levels.
Stopping for coffee, tea, or soda is a ritual many students enjoy to treat themselves and feel more awake. But excess caffeine only offers a temporary boost, followed by a crash that might leave you feeling more tired than you were before.
Both habitual and occasional use of drugs and alcohol can alter your body’s hormones and metabolism. Additionally, they prevent you from completing an entire sleep cycle (even if you aren’t awake). These substances affect your overall health, making them a common culprit in causing symptoms of fatigue.
Are you taking prescription or over-the-counter medications for minor issues like allergies? Talk to a doctor to find out if this could be the cause of your tiredness. Often, they can suggest an alternative medication or advise you to take certain medicines at night instead of in the morning.
- Not Getting Enough Exercise
Feeling too tired to go for a walk, hit the gym, or try that new exercise class? Surprisingly, not getting enough physical activity might be the cause of your fatigue.
Exercise of any kind can help boost your mood and give you more energy. Many people find that finding the right fitness routine and keeping up with it helps them feel more focused, too.
Everyone is different, and no two days are the same, so be flexible and have a plan for including some form of movement in your daily schedule.
On days you don’t have time or if more intense workouts aren’t for you, consider a few of these alternatives:
- Go for a short walk after lunch
- Get a standing desk
- Try stretching or yoga
- Learn tai chi movements
- Find a 10-minute home workout video
- Mental Health Conditions
Did you know that certain mental health conditions can cause tiredness?
Sometimes, feeling very tired and unmotivated is a symptom of depression and conditions related to it. Stress and anxiety can keep the brain so busy and require so much of your energy that your body begins to feel exhausted over time.
Some causes of mental health conditions include:
- Family history
- Feeling overwhelmed/being too busy
- Major life changes
- Loss and grief
Don’t feel embarrassed if you think a mental health condition might be causing your fatigue. It’s crucial to see a professional caregiver about receiving an accurate diagnosis and work with them to create a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Your insurance provider can help you find a mental health care provider. Alternatively, you can check with your school to see if there’s a trained therapist available for students.
- Physical Health Conditions
If you’ve already tried the solutions we’ve discussed so far and still feel tired all the time, an underlying health condition may be to blame.
Don’t attempt to self-diagnose and treat any health concern using information from a web search. A doctor will want to discuss any other symptoms you may have, your lifestyle, and your medical history before making any treatment decisions.
Also, don't assume that you have any specific health concerns without talking to a doctor first. With that said, here are a few examples of physical conditions that might cause fatigue:
- Chronic Pain
- Sleep Apnea
It’s normal to feel tired during a busy week or after a late-night study session. But if you’ve noticed your fatigue is something you deal with all the time, it’s time to make some changes.
Luckily, most of these common causes of fatigue are easy to remedy with self-awareness and healthier habits. Eat better, hit the gym, and get a bit more shut-eye at night; it can make a world of difference.
Regardless, always see your doctor if you think there might be a more serious underlying cause for your tiredness.
Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over 10 years of experience in the conventional housing industry and works with The Depot at Akron on a daily basis to help them with their marketing efforts.